There will be no NHL players representing their country at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang after the league decided in April to keep its athletes from participating.
The league said that it decided to end its streak of sending athletes to five consecutive Winter Olympic Games because of the negative impact the 17-day break in the season caused for the league. In addition, the NHL said there was no effective dialogue from the players, IOC or NHLPA on continuing its participation in the Olympics.
"We have previously made clear that while the overwhelming majority of our clubs are adamantly opposed to disrupting the 2017-18 NHL season for purposes of accommodating Olympic participation by some NHL players, we were open to hearing from any of the other parties who might have an interest in the issue (e.g., the IOC, the IIHF, the NHLPA, etc.) as to reasons the Board of Governors might be interested in re-evaluating their strongly held views on the subject," the NHL said in a statement at the time. "A number of months have now passed and no meaningful dialogue has materialized. Instead, the IOC has now expressed the position that the NHL's participation in Beijing in 2022 is conditioned on our participation in South Korea in 2018. And the NHLPA has now publicly confirmed that it has no interest or intention of engaging in any discussion that might make Olympic participation more attractive to the clubs. As a result, and in an effort to create clarity among conflicting reports and erroneous speculation, this will confirm our intention to proceed with finalizing our 2017-18 regular season schedule without any break to accommodate the Olympic Winter Games. We now consider the matter officially closed."
However, the NHLPA said it did oppose the decision.
"A unique opportunity lies ahead with the 2018 and 2022 Olympics in Asia. The NHL may believe it is penalizing the IOC or the players, or both, for not giving the owners some meaningful concessions in order to induce them to agree to go to PyeongChang. Instead this impedes the growth of our great game by walking away from an opportunity to reach sports fans worldwide.
"Moreover, it is doing so after the financial issues relating to insurance and transportation have been resolved with the IOC and IIHF. The League's efforts to blame others for its decision is as unfortunate as the decision itself. NHL players are patriotic and they do not take this lightly. A decent respect for the opinions of the players matters. This is the NHL's decision, and its alone. It is very unfortunate for the game, the players and millions of loyal hockey fans."
Collegiate athletes and professionals from leagues in other countries will make up the international hockey teams. The field is essentially wide open without the best hockey players in the world competing.
Tony Granato, the head hockey coach at the University of Wisconsin, will coach the group of young athletes. Click here to view the roster.
The NHL began sending athletes to the Olympics in 1998. However, the U.S. did not win any gold medals from 1998-2014. Canada won three gold medals.
The U.S.' Miracle on Ice against the Soviet Union was in 1980, and it consisted of a team made up of amateur athletes.
The IOC said it would stop covering the costs for the NHL to send its athletes to the games since it did not do the same for other professional leagues.
The International Ice Hockey Federation offered to pay up to $20 million for the costs, but the NHL had other concerns such as injuries and the games affecting the rest of the NHL season and Stanley Cup.